The power of WE
A recent study by the American Journal of Sex challenged the saying ‘familiarity breeds contempt”. Grant H. Brenner, MD reported the results of a study by the American Journal of Sex Research about IOS – the “inclusion of other in the self”. It was an interesting article in the June 2022 Psychology Today that aligns with the research compiled by the Gottman Institute on what makes a happy marriage. A sound relationship, according to Gottman therapy, is built on a solid foundation of togetherness – a you-and-me-against-the-world perspective. In theory a Sound Relationship House starts with only two partners inside – two completely different individuals with a window between where they are consistently checking in on the wellbeing of the other. They are a team – a family – and everyone else in their world sits on the outside with solid walls between separating them from the family inside.
Back to the recent study. It supported this idea with results from a survey of 3000 couples who said they felt more in love with their partner when they included their partner as a part of their own identity, when they included their significant other in their sense of self. It helps couples overlook the small irritants because they keep the bigger concept of “we” in mind.
It’s interesting how this concept shows up in the counseling office. Most of the time when I draw the diagram of a Sound Relationship House and the concept of walls and windows, usually one partner passionately tells the other that the diagram is an example of what they’ve been trying to say for years. When couples allow others from the “outside” a more important place than their partner, emotional intimacy is challenged and physical intimacy is diminished.
So what’s the lesson here? Rewind the relationship and build a new marriage based on a deep friendship and an exclusive sense of connection. That can include repairing broken trust, admitting where you’ve gone wrong, and letting others know the importance you place on your relationship. It can seem impossible to ever get back to this place, but from what I’ve seen happen in counseling amazing things can happen!
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